Utah Warriors Edge Houston SaberCats

Houston SaberCats & Utah Warriors

The Houston SaberCats lost 36-30 to the Utah Warriors on Saturday, May 26 at Dyer Stadium in Houston.

With the USA Men’s Eagles convening for camp on Sunday, the match takes on even more importance as both teams will miss players during the June tests. Paul Mullen will represent the SaberCats. For the Utah Warriors, Tevita ‘David’ Tameilau and Paul Lasike are part of the squad. Kurt Morath also plays for Tonga.

Match Recap

Conor Mills was tackled high by Utah in the second minute. This led to a Sam Windsor penalty kick inside the 40-meter as the SaberCats took an early 3-0 lead.

The Houston SaberCats moved the ball wide right and Esdale broke down the wide channel. Kolinisau received the offload inside and Murphy offloaded to Vici and then to Kolinisau for a try under the posts. Windsor slotted the conversion and the score was 10-0.

Utah answered back attacking after a SaberCats scrum infraction. Matt Jensen dotted down for a try under the posts with Kurt Morath slotting the conversion to cut the lead to 10-7. Soon after the Warriors attacked again from a scrum moving on their back foot. Lance Williams finished the attack with a try and Morath converted to take a 14-10 lead.

The SaberCats had the next opportunity to attack from a scrum. Josua Vici went into contact and the Warriors were penalized. The SaberCats opted to kick to touch instead of going for points. This decision turned out to be a good one as Sam Windsor drew in a defender and passed inside to Josua Vici for a try in the corner. Windsor slotted the conversion as the SaberCats reclaimed the lead 17-14.

After the try, there was a hydration break in the 95-degree weather, feeling like it was 102. The first 20 minutes was played at a blistering pace. With playoff implications at stake, the players will give all that they have before the reserves take over.

Houston had the first chance to increase their lead after the hydration break as Alex Tucci was penalized for a scrum infraction. Sam Windsor made the Warriors pay as he slotted a 50-meter kick, increasing the lead to 20-14.

The restart went to the SaberCats, but a knock on by Houston gave the Warriors an attacking opportunity outside the Houston 22-meters. The SaberCats were then penalized and Utah elected to kick to touch instead of going for points. From the lineout the Warriors attacked and the SaberCats were penalized again. Utah again kicked for touch and from the lineout, Lote Tu’ipulotu was held up in-goal by Lindsey Stevens. This resulted in a Utah 5-meter scrum.

Macklin drove straight up in the scrum and the SaberCats were penalized again. After another penalty,  Utah lost the ball forward near in-goal. The SaberCats used the 5-meter scrum to clear the ball outside their 22-meters into touch. The ensuing lineout by Utah was then stolen by the SaberCat and soon a turnover went to the Warriors.

The SaberCats discipline continued to be an issue an Kyle Sumsion was penalized at the breakdown. utah kicked to touch and then mauled after the ensuing lineout. A knock on by the SaberCats then resulted in a scrum about 15 meters from the line. Paul Lasike took a crash ball and Joseph Nicholls was held up in-goal. This resulted in a Warriors 5-meter scrum. The SaberCats were again penalized and Kurt Morath slotted a penalty kick to narrow the lead to 20-17 with a little over two minutes remaining before the break.

Utah ran into Osea Kolinisau as he was kicking and the dangerous play had Windsor kicking to touch. From their lineout, the team went through phases and the ball went into touch ending the half at 20-17 in favor of the SaberCats.

Second Half

The Warriors claimed the restart to begin the second half but lost the ball forward outside the SaberCats 22-meters. An errant pass by Kolinisau then resulted in a scrum to the Warriors. Utah went wide left to Fets Vainikolo who offloaded inside to Don Pati, who ran it in for a try. Morath slotted the kick and the Warriors reclaimed the lead 24-20.

The Warriors controlled the restart but were penalized at the breakdown near their 22-meters. The SaberCats Murphy took the quick tap, as a penalty advantage was being played for the Warriors not retreating and Tucci was playing the man. Alex Tucci received a yellow card and the penalty resulted in a Sam Windsor kick to cut the lead to 24-23.

Despite being down a man, after a penalty, the Warriors passed wide to Tonata Lauti for a try in the corner.  Morath pushed the ball wide right, but the Warriors lead was 29-23.

In this seesaw match, the SaberCats regained a 30-29 lead in the 62nd minute as the team took a tighthead scrum and Connor Murphy went in for a try with Sam Windsor converting.

The Utah Warriors had the final say when Don Pati counter-attacked and Lote Tu’ipulotu finished with a try. Kurt Morath then slotted the conversion for a 36-30 lead which held up for the win.

With the win, the Utah Warriors move into third place with 14 points in the standings. The Houston SaberCats fall to 7th with 9 points.

Sam Windsor was named Man of the Match for the SaberCats.

Houston SaberCats & Utah Warriors Squads

Houston SaberCats: 1 Adam Macklin 2 Lindsey Stevens  3 Paul Mullen 4 Charlie Hewitt 5 Matt Trouville 6 Chris Coyle7 Cecil Garber 8 Kyle Sumsion (c) 9 Connor Murphy 10 Sam Windsor 11 Josua Vici 12 Conor Mills 13 Dan Paul 14 Malacchi Esdale 15 Osea Kolinisau 16 Diego Maquierira 17 Jake Turnbull 18 Kenneth Hepburn 19 Robert Meeson 20 Pago Haini 21 Chris Slater 22 Joey Iosefa 23 Alex Elkins + Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick Allen 20 Chris Parker 21 Cecil Garber 22 Chris Slater 23 Dan Paul + Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick

Utah Warriors: 1 Alex Tucci, 2 Lote Tu’ipulotu, 3 Angus MacLellan, 4 Matt Jensen, 5 Saia Uhila, (VC) 6 Lance Williams, 7 Ara Elkington, 8 Tevita ‘David’ Tameilau, 9 Joseph Nicholls, 10 Kurt Morath, 11 Tonata Lauti, 12 Paul Lasike (capt.), 13 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 14 Iniki Fa’amausili 15 Don Pati 16 Tino Mafi 17  Maka Tameilau 18 Les Soloai 19 Ray Forrester  20 John Cullen 21 Jonny Linehan  22 Vernon Ale 23 Ben Nicholls, + Head Coach Alf Daniels

Houston SaberCats Pre-Season Record (12-2-2)

Houston SaberCats 2018 Major League Rugby Schedule

  • April 21 vs New Orleans Gold (L 35-26) Preview
  • April 28 vs Austin Elite (W 50-38) Preview  AT&T
  • May 4 at San Diego Legion (L 35-32) Preview CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
  • May 19 at New Orleans Gold (L 24-20) Preview CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
  • May 26 vs. Utah Warriors Preview AT&T
  • June 2 vs. Seattle Seawolves 8 pm CDT Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
  • June 8 at Glendale Raptors 8 pm CDT Network: AT&T
  • June 23 at Utah Warriors 2 pm CDT Network: AT&T
  • June 30 MLR Semi-Finals at Glendale Sat, 6 PM – 11 pm CDT Network: CBSSN
  • July 7 MLR Championship at San Diego 8-10:45 pm CDT Network: CBSSN (Game of the Week)

Utah Warriors Pre-season

Utah Warriors 2018 Major League Rugby Season

  • April 29 at San Diego Legion (L 31-24) Preview Cox/AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • May 5 vs Glendale Raptors (L 36-29) Preview AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • May 11 vs Austin Elite Rugby (W 42-21) Preview CBSSN, ESPN+
  • May 20 at Seattle Seawolves (L 41-32) Preview  ROOT SPORTS, ESPN+
  • May 26 at Houston SaberCats Preview AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • June 1 at Austin Elite Rugby 7 pm MDT Network: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • June 16 vs New Orleans Gold 2 pm MDT Network: CBSSN, ESPN+
  • June 23 vs Houston SaberCats 1 pm Network: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+

Other Articles

DJCoil Rugby articles by Doug Coil are also available on Facebook. Other Social Media sites to follow or subscribe include Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for interviews.

About Author

North American Rugby News With A USA Slant